Tips for Understanding Utility Companies
Four Things to Keep in Mind About Your Utility Company
Utility services are metered and billed services such as water, electricity, and gas. The umbrella term also includes packaged amenities such as telephone, cell phone, cable, and internet services. These larger-than-life companies can be intimidating, but a little bit of knowledge and practicing good habits can assist you as navigate your contracts and bills with a utility company.
Here are a few tips to help you work with your utility company.
Make an Effort to Fully Comprehend Your Bills
When you pay close attention to your bills, you can detect any pricing issues before they become a major problem. After all, understanding your energy bill goes a long way towards remedying a bad situation. When you receive a bill that seems a bit pricey, or even a little too low, you should contact the responsible utility company immediately. Understanding your energy bill can also alert you to a malfunctioning gas or electrical meter, and this can be fixed to prevent you from paying too much or not enough over time.
Other things that you should check your bill for include:
- If the company is charging you for services that you did not sign up for.
- If the company is charging you for amenities that you know you have not personally used (such as long-distance calls).
Research Disconnection Rules
If you need to disconnect your utilities and reconnect them in another location (if you’re moving), you will need to check your original contract to see when you can call about disconnection. While you should be able to disconnect and reconnect anytime, some points in the month are better than others, and may prove to be cheaper. If you do not have your original contract, you can always check online to get basic information and plan ahead.
Other things to keep in mind when moving your utility services include:
- Contacting the companies in advance. You should allow at least two to four weeks for disconnection and re-connection. Not only are companies backed up, especially depending on the time of year, but you may have to take care of any back-billing, final meter readings, and possible fees for termination.
- Be sure to keep original accounts when relocating. Starting new accounts is only beneficial to the utility companies because they can charge extra for disconnection fees, and for new security deposits (usually required only in cases of poor or insufficient credit).
- Schedule all disconnections from your old home a day after your move. This will come in handy if you need a bit of extra time to move your possessions. You don’t want to be left in the dark and cold!
Keep Track of Your Usage
It is imperative that you are aware of the amount of energy that you are using at all times. If you are not aware of the exact amount, you should at least have an accurate estimate after a few bills come in. You can actually contact an energy audit company or try an online tool to conduct a simple audit to monitor your usage, if necessary.
What if you are using way too much power? Do you know how to lower your energy bill? Here are some additional tips:
- Keep your home at a moderate temperature. You can lower your air conditioner during the summer months and keep your thermostat at a reasonable setting all winter. This will result in huge savings on your cooling and heating bills, whether you use electricity or gas to get the job done.
- You can consider replacing your appliances with ENERGY STAR equipment to increase energy efficiency year-round. They may cost more up-front, but they will pay for themselves in savings over time.
Consider Switching Energy Suppliers
All but eighteen states offer deregulated markets for the supply of electricity and gas. This means that you are not obligated to stay with your provider indefinitely. You can switch providers to choose the best rates and services for your personal needs.
Do you know how to switch electricity providers? It is quite simple. You will need to call the provider of the plan that you are choosing to switch to, and they will get you set up as soon as possible. You will not experience an interruption in service. However, you should check your contract with your current provider. Switching early could result in monetary penalties or termination fees.
In conclusion, dealing with a utility company may seem complicated and scary, but using these easy tips can simplify the process. As long as you understand the rules of each company, pay close attention to charges, understand how to switch electricity providers, and know how to lower your energy bill, you should never have to worry about any issues with your utility company.